July and August will see warmer-than-normal temperatures dominating the western United States, especially the northern Rockies and northern Plains, and the 2008 hurricane season still looks to be an active one, according to forecaster WSI Corp. of Andover, MA. The season’s second named storm, Tropical Storm Bertha, developed in the eastern Atlantic late last week and was not expected to approach North America until at least early in the week — if at all.

“The expected transition from big heat in the East to more seasonal temperatures is currently occurring and should persist through much of July,” said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. “The most intense heat will plague the western U.S. for much of the rest of the summer. By August, however, we do feel that some heat will return to the Northeast, although we do not expect intense or persistent heat all month. A transition to cooler and wetter conditions will occur in the Southeast as the most anomalous heat lifts northward and westward.”

In its Energycast Outlook for July, WSI forecast cooler-than-normal temperatures for the eastern United States and the North Central region, with warmer-than-normal temperatures expected in the rest of the country except coastal areas of the Northwest and Southwest.

Energy Security Analysis Inc. (ESAI) said gas injections to storage in July may be slightly above normal due to cooler temperatures in the Eastern and California major load centers, offsetting higher demand in the Central regions. While heat impacts on power prices are likely to be moderate in the Northeast and California markets with a lower probability of heat events in those areas, high fuel prices will keep power prices inflated in most regions, ESAI said.

The WSI forecast for August calls for cooler-than-normal weather remaining in the Southeast while warmer-than-normal temperatures will be in control over the rest of the country, except coastal areas of the Northwest and Southwest. Injections to gas storage are likely to be below normal during August, providing a bullish factor in natural gas pricing, according to ESAI. Power prices in the Northeast markets will be firm with slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures and a slightly higher probability of heat events. With normal-to-cooler temperatures expected in California and Texas, power prices should remain moderate in relation to prevailing natural gas prices, ESAI said.

WSI looks for cooler-than-normal temperatures across the map in September, except in Texas and the Northeast, which will experience slightly warmer-than-normal weather. Injections to gas storage are likely to be higher than normal in September due to the lower probability of late season heat, ESAI said. Cooler temperatures in September should moderate power prices except in the Northeast, where warmer temperature expectations would be moderately bullish for power prices, according to ESAI.

The WSI seasonal outlooks reference a standard 30-year norm (1971-2000). The next forecast, for August-October, is scheduled to be issued July 16.

In a separate report, WSI held firm to its forecast of an active 2008 Atlantic hurricane season in its newest tropical forecast, continuing to call for 14 named storms and eight hurricanes, including four intense hurricanes (Category 3 or greater) to form by Nov. 30.

WSI forecasters said an active hurricane season will arise from the expected continuation of warmer-than-normal Atlantic Ocean temperature anomalies and the likelihood of a favorable or neutral wind shear environment on the heels of the La Nina event.

“The current La Nina event, which is decaying somewhat this spring, should leave behind a wind shear environment that is favorable for the development of tropical systems in the summer and fall of 2008,” said WSI seasonal forecaster Todd Crawford. “Further, surface atmospheric pressures have been persistently low across the tropical Atlantic during the last month, potentially implying a more favorable environment for development. Lastly, our forecast model has been quite consistent with the forecast numbers all spring.”

Between 1950 and 2007 an average of 9.7 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes have formed during the Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Bertha, the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed last Thursday southwest of the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern Atlantic. According to Accuweather.com, forecast models indicated that the system would continue to move to the west-northwest across the central Atlantic for several days and would probably remain at sea.

Formation and dissipation of the first tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season came and went more than a month ago with no threat to Gulf of Mexico oil and gas interests. Tropical Storm Arthur developed May 31 in the western Caribbean Sea and wasted little time in moving ashore over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where it was downgraded to a tropical depression on June 1.

Most forecasters this year have called for an active or above-average Atlantic hurricane season. Last month Colorado State University forecasters maintained their earlier forecast, which called for a well above-average hurricane season this year with 15 named storms forming in the Atlantic Basin (see NGI, June 9a).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has said projected climate conditions point to a near-normal or above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this year (see NGI, May 26). The outlook indicates a 60-70% chance of 12 to 16 named storms, including six to nine hurricanes and two to five major hurricanes, NOAA said.

MDA EarthSat forecasters also said the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be busier than average but quieter than last year (see NGI, April 21). MDA EarthSat forecasters said 13 named storms, six hurricanes and three intense or major hurricanes are likely to form during the Atlantic hurricane season.

AccuWeather.com meteorologist Joe Bastardi said the East Coast will be at greater risk this coming hurricane season even though the number of named storms is expected to be about average, and Gulf of Mexico interests can expect seven to 10 days with at least the threat of weather disruptions (see NGI, May 19).

Using NOAA data and its own storm tracking tool, forecasting network WeatherBug said it expects 10-12 named storms and an above-average Atlantic hurricane season (see NGI, June 2).

Last month energy consultant IHS Inc. issued a report that said average impact on U.S. oil and natural gas production from Gulf of Mexico hurricanes over a 45-year period was “relatively modest” and the impact on energy supplies “typically short-lived” (see NGI, June 9b).

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